Amador Montes

Amador Montes (Oaxaca, 1975) is a contemporary Mexican artist. His work emphasizes emotion and it develops from his personal life. The artist follows a constant aesthetic research through the materials he loves experimenting with them. In the creative process continuous changes and evolutions are generated. The layers that symbolise time, which is also a central theme of his work.

His work is exhibited in Mexico and internationally in Casa Lamm Gallery, the International Museum of the Baroque, the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, the Alfredo Ginocchio Gallery, the Stamp National Museum, the Drexel Gallery, the Casa del Risco Museum, the Oscar Román Gallery, the Urban Gallery, the University Museum Casa de los Muñecos, the University Cultural Center of the BUAP (Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla), Regional Museum of Guadalajara, Museum of the Oaxacan Painters, Art Museum of Queretaro, the Art Museum of the Archbishopric, Fernando Garcia Ponce Museum – MACAY- And abroad in the United Nations Headquartes and Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in New York City, Vatican City, the Embassy of Mexico in Spain, the Universities of Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and The Future Gallery, Pierhead in Wales, the United Kingdom, the Excellent Ateneo of Sevilla, Bismarck Studios in San Antonio, Texas, International Museum of Art and Sciences of Texas, FORMA Museum in San Salvador, the PICI Gallery and the Hangaram Museum in Seoul, International Contemporary Art Fair Art3F in Montecarlo, Monaco.

He lives and works in Oaxaca.

DE LA SERIE "HOJA DE APUNTES II"
DE LA SERIE "HOJA DE APUNTES II"

190 x 190 Mixed technique on canvas, 2019

BOCETO PARA UN DIBUJO
BOCETO PARA UN DIBUJO

250 x 350cm Mixed technique on canvas, 2019

JUNTO AL MAR 3 15am II P 65x65cm
JUNTO AL MAR 3 15am II P 65x65cm

65 x 65cm etching and aquatint, 2020

DE LA SERIE "HOJA DE APUNTES II"
DE LA SERIE "HOJA DE APUNTES II"

190 x 190 Mixed technique on canvas, 2019

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Amador Montes | © Copyright Amador Montes, Courtesy of La Crujía Arte Contemporáneo

Chambre Fluide: Today you are a well known and internationally famous artist but you are also a Oaxacan citizen, man with a family, friends...so let's jump back in time: how did it all begin? Well, We saw you started exhibiting in galleries at a very young age and we would like to know how you came to make the big step as an international artist?

 

Amador Montes: The truth is that there is no like a formula or something. Well, I've loved art since I was a kid and painting and everything, but the truth is that I didn't know and I didn't look for the steps to follow to become an artist. Art came to me by chance, and so I can never give a chronogram of how things happened. As you know in Oaxaca there is a lot of art, colours, culture, and well, people started to be interested in my work and that's how I got to this place where I'm standing and where I suddenly have my exhibitions, many of them over the twenty years I've been an artist. I didn't prepare myself, I didn't think about it, I didn't want it, I just got there little by little. And well, the truth I have to confess, it's the only thing I know how to do and it's the only thing I know how to do well and it's the only thing I love and so fortunately I was able to do it, but it wasn't very planned.

 

CF: And it seems to me that you worked very hard, that is, your work was also disseminated because you had a lot of love, a lot of dedication.


AM: It's true, the secret here is to work every day, that is, to enjoy how much you can work, day, night, Saturday, Sunday, holidays, because for me it's a pleasure to draw, it's the most beautiful way I have of communicating. After that it's hard for me to have a conversation, I'm a bit shy, but I'm very good at painting, so it's nice when you can express yourself in something and not see it as a proper job. I painted every day and what I didn't understand was that it was part of a job that was very good for the gallery, also for the exhibitions, if not simply for me it was a pleasure to come to the workshop and draw and paint, so it's as if they gave you a prize for eating.

RENACER 83x71cm litografia 2016.jpg

Amador Montes, RENACER 83x71cm litografia 2016 | © Copyright Amador Montes, Courtesy of La Crujía Arte Contemporáneo

CF: Being from Oaxaca seems to be a crucial issue for you, we can see the affection you have for your city and this great love that drives you in everything, in your work and in your life, and for Mexico. Let's talk about this, about this identity, let's not only say "national", about not only feeling affection for the territory, but being part of a society, feeling at one with a place, your place of birth. What does it mean to feel belonging to a place? What is it that transports this love everywhere?

 

AM: Well, it's a very nice question, it would be very difficult to plan to belong to something, it's very difficult to plan it because you don't know the answer of the others, so, fortunately, Oaxaca is for me. Oaxaca is a very small city, very beautiful, that you can walk around.

 

I walk around Oaxaca all the time, so I know all the streets. I have many friends, the Oaxacan is very given to open the door of his house to have a coffee, a tea, a mezcal, a beer.  The most beautiful consequence is that, to know that I carry Oaxaca on my shoulders, that they understand the colours, that they understand my language, that they understand the animals, so for me to be an artist from Oaxaca is what I like the most. 

I arrive in Korea and people tell me "Ah! Oaxaca! Oaxaca!", so I can identify my place of origin perfectly and then I quickly see that my plastic language works, like people understand my colours because they know where I'm from. Then suddenly I paint a lot of beach, because, well, we are close to the beach, or I paint a lot of animals because it is very hot here, there is a lot of sun, so there is an identification of my work from my circumstance, from where I was born, and I like that a lot, that is the biggest prize. The recognition and support is very nice. The truth is that I like to be involved in many things, I have a foundation, I support kids who want to start learning art. In the community I try to be a person who participates a lot with them, because I have had the opportunity to take my work to other places in the world, and people understand Mexico and also understand Oaxaca, that is also very nice.

 

CF: And travelling you see different places, when you go back to Oaxaca you find something there that you don't find in other places, like you also manage to give more value to what you saw, can it be something like that? 

AM: yes! exactly! 

CUANDO ME FUI 200x125cm mixta sobre pape

Amador Montes, CUANDO ME FUI 200x125cm mixta sobre papel 2020 | © Copyright Amador Montes, Courtesy of La Crujía Arte Contemporáneo

DE LA SERIE DIBUJOS EN COLOR IX 200x125c

Amador Montes, DE LA SERIE DIBUJOS EN COLOR IX 200x125cm mixta sobre papel kraft 2020 | © Copyright Amador Montes, Courtesy of La Crujía Arte Contemporáneo

CF: Now we wanted to ask you, speaking more specifically about your work, if you could tell us something about your project Antagónico and also if you could tell us about your work Me quedé solo con mi pintura, where we see these phrases that seem to be written by different people over time and these numerical sequences; what do they represent? And what role does time have for you, what meaning does it have and how does it relate to your work?

 

AM: Well, regarding the first one, linked to Antagónico: it's a series that I made from the waste of other paintings, this means that there are paintings that I don't like much and I work on top of them, so when I work on top of them it becomes like 'antagonistic' what was behind and 'protagonist' what I paint new. So this antagonism is very important, it's like life, sometimes we know who we are, antagonistic or protagonist, but we are part of something. In my work this happens, there are many things that are antagonistic, but they are key protagonists of my work. Many people tell me "I like a painting, I like this, I don't even know why but I like it", what they don't know is that there is something behind that makes the final piece very striking, it's the antagonism, like the antagonistic part of my painting. So that's very important for me. 

The second part: Me quedé solo con mi pintura, "I was left alone with my painting", is a phrase I made in the pandemic. There are different phrases, I regularly write things during the day, depending on the music I'm listening to, depending on what's happening in my life, depending on what I've done, where I've gone out, what I've seen, and it seems to me that painting has to have that, or at least my painting has to have it. And the theme of the pandemic cost me a lot of work because it was like being locked up painting, that's why I wrote Me quedé solo con mi pintura, because my painting is constructed from people I know, from people I fall in love with, from friends I have a beer with, so it's constructed from that and to construct something from this quarantine is very complicated. 

I also write a lot from the music I listen to, I like music like Sabina, Serrat, Fito Páez, so I write the phrases of these people who help me because they understand my same artistic language, I write them and then I use them in my painting, I make them stencilled and I use them. And it reinforces a lot of what I say, there is a phrase of mine that says: “Parte de mi se queda hoy aquì”  which means "Part of me stays here today". There is a Cuban artist who is a very good friend of mine and then I listened to one of his songs and I said: "Of course, part of me stays in the work". Well, Fito seems to me to be a genius and so he tells me things and I write them, I project them into my life and then I transform them and put them in my painting. Music is very important for me, music is key in life, in my life and in my painting and I can't paint without listening to music, I can't paint without listening to people who do the same as me, talking. 

The numerical sequences: it's like the touch of something, because suddenly 1,2,3,4,5,6,... it becomes an infinity, so in my piece the same thing happens. I don't want people to see it as something completely established, but as something alive that is changing colour, that is finding other forms, that there are writings, that there are texts, that there are like many things in a whole that are the numbers, the numbers mean that. Like there is nothing and at the same time there is everything, it is an infinity. And I explained it with the sequence of numbers. It's like a representation of infinity that I would like people to understand in my work. In the end it's very difficult, because it's like never arriving at nothing, that is, my work never arrives at nothing, so today I paint one thing and tomorrow I paint another and then I come back and then I don't like what I painted yesterday, and then I'm thinking of painting something else, and then if I'm reading a book I want to put it there, if I'm listening to other music I want to put it there, if I saw other eyes in the morning I want to put them there, so I'm going like everything in nothing. 

ANTAGONISMO mixta sobre tela 220x140cm.j

Amador Montes, ANTAGONISMO, 220x140cm, Mixed technique on canvas, 2019 | © Copyright Amador Montes, Courtesy of La Crujía Arte Contemporáneo

ME QUEDE SOLO CON MI PINTURA 205x225cm m

Amador Montes, ME QUEDÉ SOLO CON MI PINTURA, 205x225cm mixta sobre tela 2020 | © Copyright Amador Montes, Courtesy of La Crujía Arte Contemporáneo

CF: It kind of follows what real life is like out there too, doesn't it?

 

AM: Exactly, that's it! It's like life, exactly, yeah! And then it's difficult to explain life, isn't it?

 

CF: Yes! Of course! And also with this way you have of working, that you superimpose many layers, and also these words, made in a very different way, it seems as if the concept of time is very present in your work, as if it were a wall, as if you were holding...

 

AM: Yes, a piece of old wall! Well, what I did was to work with a restorer, to whom I said "Now we're going to work the other way round, we're going to take a new piece and put it on an old piece". So he had a hard time because the oil comes out shiny. I for example started to build pieces like new ones and he took them like old ones, as if they had been there a long time. I love that, I love walking down the street and seeing a wall full of old things, full of painting after painting, advertisements, photographs, stencils, and then more paint, and they scrape it off... it fascinates me! My workshop is also like that, it's like a damaged wall, I love damaged things, I don't like new things, even in my clothes. When I buy a pair of tennis shoes (I always wear tennis shoes) and I give them to my son so that he can wear them new and then give them to me when they are damaged. It's like my way of understanding life, I don't like new things, and it's because of time. In my work I always try to do it, that is to say to hurt and attack the pieces a lot, that's how I like it. But a new piece, white, with a lot of colour, a lot of shine, it's very hard for me to draw over it. 

So time is very important in my work.

DE ALGUNA MANERA
DE ALGUNA MANERA

220 x 140cm Mixed technique on canvas, 2021

MEMORIAS DE UNA TARDE 220x280cm mixta so
MEMORIAS DE UNA TARDE 220x280cm mixta so

220 x 280cm Mixed technique on canvas, 2020

PARA TI P121
PARA TI P121

5 x120cm Img110x110cm woodcutting, collagraphy and silk-screen printing, 2020

DE ALGUNA MANERA
DE ALGUNA MANERA

220 x 140cm Mixed technique on canvas, 2021

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Amador Montes | © Copyright Amador Montes, Courtesy of La Crujía Arte Contemporáneo

CF: One last question, to conclude, I would like to know what does it mean to you to be an artist? 

 

AM: Actually, to be honest, it's something I've been doing all my life. It's important and it's nice to do what I like to do and the only thing I can do and what I do best and that's what I live with. But the truth is that I don't put it before myself or anything, the truth is that I like my work, I like doing it, I like being like a worker, arriving at 9 in the morning, painting, creating, listening to music, reading, drawing, making things with plasticine, like I've always done, so it's like a job, beautiful, very nice, but a job. 

 

CF: Is it more like a way of being?

 

AM: Yes, as always, like when they say to someone who has been a chef all her life: "are you a chef?" and she says "no, I've always cooked". It's the same for me, I've always been like that, and if that's what an artist is, then I've always been an artist since I was 8 years old.

UN DIBUJO Y UN POEMA P 68.5x47cm Img 58x

Amador Montes, UN DIBUJO Y UN POEMA P 68.5x47cm Img 58x39.5cm aguafuerte y aguatinta 2020

© Copyright Amador Montes, Courtesy of La Crujía Arte Contemporáneo

3 15 170x170cm mixta sobre tela 2018.jpg

Amador Montes, ​3:15, 170x170cm, Mixed technique on canvas, 2018. 

© Copyright Amador Montes, Courtesy of La Crujía Arte Contemporáneo

You can find more about Amador Montes on his website